The very nature of certain materials is that they don’t immediately adhere to human skin. As everyone has slightly different skin types, some players can find a pick with a sound that they love, only to discover that keeping hold of it is much harder than planned. Some materials only begin to cling to you once you get hot, and as temperature at gigs and rehearsals is never guaranteed, sometimes a little bit of extra adhesion isn’t a bad thing.
Enter Monster Grips – a tactile silicon pad designed to prevent you from dropping your plectrums. These come well-presented in packs of 16, and are available from the Monster Picks site, as well as through Chicken Picks, where I got mine. They’re easy to apply – harder to get off, but that’s more of a testament to the quality of their initial stickiness than anything else. One very clever thing that Monster Grips have elected to do is to make them washable, so that if they do get dirty, rubbing them clean with a bit of water restores their stickiness. This means that you can keep using the same set without having to buy replacements, and I admire the inclusion of such a practice in the company’s ethos. Monster Grips say they can be used for mics, drumsticks, anything that requires a bit more grip, and that’s all ace. But what are they like in practice?
For the purposes of this review, I’ve fitted them to this Howling Monkey Fatty. Tagua is one of my absolute favourite materials for picks, as it provides a warm, focused, relatively chirp-free sound, but the downside is that unless your fingers are hot or a bit damp from playing, it can be tough for some players to hold onto. After some fumbling, I got the Grips where I needed them, and got to work.
Initially, the experience wasn’t all that enjoyable. The tiny ridge between the surface of the pick and the new level presented by the Grips meant that I was always aware of it being there, and as a result, I was extremely conscious of the Grips’ addition. It takes time to place the pads where you genuinely need them as well – this is not a complaint in any respect, more a bit of advice. Wherever you think they need to go, it’s lower down, and it varies from pick to pick. I did stick them on a Chicken Picks Bermuda and Standard to see how they worked on different materials, and the results were quite interesting.
Unquestionably, there’s more grip. The tone remains the same as far as I could hear, albeit with an extremely slight top-end roll off. You might perceive this in an silent room with two identical picks, but in a live setting you would never hear it – I include this information to be thorough. I was amazed at how well these stayed on – the Fatty has pistol grips, but even on an uneven surface the Monster Grips weren’t going anywhere. I gave another of my picks to a friend of mine who has permanently dry hands, who reported that even with his incredibly aggressive style the Grips worked brilliantly. This is a key feature – this guy couldn’t hold onto acrylic picks even if they were taped to his hands, so to find out that the addition of the Monsters let him use picks he otherwise couldn’t hold speaks volumes about their scope of use.
This was an odd test, in many ways. Grip is one of my essential criteria when it comes to plectrums, and the feel of these shallow pads was more of a hindrance than anything else. That being said, I thought about their broader application, and there’s a lot to be said for these. A number of their testimonials refer to aiding beginners, and for those picks that deliver amazing tone but don’t work with your hands, these can be a great help. It’s also worth noting that if you were to play with the same pick every day with these attached you probably wouldn’t notice them, but as I’m changing all the time it does make their presence more noticeable.
In short, Monster Grips are an extremely helpful tool if you struggle to hold onto plectrums that don’t want to hold onto you. If you have trouble with grip strength, they’ve also got their merit. I’ll do a YouTube video with these where I use nothing but picks with these on for a week, and see if they become less noticeable, so we shall see what happens in the long run.
- Approx. 0.3mm thick
- Made in Rochester, NY
- A sticky 7.5/10
- Price per unit: $9.99 for a pack of 16, which given their lifespan is crazy value
- If you’re remotely interested in these, buy them.